Virginia football secured a massive commitment Friday afternoon, as Mississippi State quarterback Keytaon Thompson has decided to join the Cavaliers. The dual-threat quarterback will be immediately eligible for two seasons as a graduate transfer and is poised to challenge sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong for the starting role.
“Keytaon is big, physical, fast, dynamic [and] an exceptional athlete,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a video posted to his Twitter page. “To win the coastal division and the ACC championship, two quarterbacks are always necessary, not just one.”
Thompson was a highly regarded recruit in the 2017 class, tallying 10,737 total yards on offense and 149 touchdowns throughout his high school career. In his senior season, the New Orleans product won the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award after leading Landry-Walker High School to its first ever state championship.
Despite receiving an offer from in-state LSU, Thompson committed to Mississippi State and immediately saw action his freshman year, often coming in for starter Nick Fitzgerald. In fact, Thompson was thrust in the starting role against rival Ole Miss after Fitzgerald suffered a season-ending ankle injury. While Thompson couldn’t lead the Bulldogs to a win in that game, he posted 195 yards passing and 121 yards rushing to go with two total touchdowns.
In Mississippi State’s subsequent game against Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl, Thompson outdueled 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, passing for 127 yards and rushing for 147 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 31-27 victory.
Thompson started the Bulldogs’ first game of the 2018 season in a 63-6 rout of Stephen F. Austin, racking up 473 yards of total offense and seven total touchdowns. Nevertheless, with Fitzgerald healthy, Thompson wouldn’t see the field in a starting role for the rest of the season. He subsequently redshirted during his 2019 season, playing just one game against Ole Miss.
With the arrival of head coach Mike Leach and graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello, Mississippi State will undoubtedly transition to an Air Raid offense that caters to pro-style quarterbacks that stay in the pocket. Thompson, on the other hand, has flourished when given the ability to scramble and make plays with his legs and should fit well into a Virginia offense that has thrived with dual-threat quarterbacks like Kurt Benkert and Bryce Perkins.